How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
In showing prices, one way of displaying prices so that they seem more attractive is simply to use a smaller font than you might otherwise do.
You can use a large price ticket so people can see where the price is displayed. Just do not fill the ticket with the price.
Do not make the price so small that people looking for it cannot find it or that they become irritated by how small it is.
A retail store, displaying clothing on a mannequin in the window, puts the price in a small stand on the floor.
A shop reduces the font size on its ticketing machine. Not by a lot, but enough to reduce the attention customers pay to the price.
Often, we do not want customers to pay great attention to the price of a product. We would rather that they fall in love with the product first and then worry about the price when they have formed an emotional attachment. Making the price smaller helps this process.
When we look at a price written in a small font, the brain confuses physical size with price 'size', even to the point of downgrading the feeling we get when we see an expensive price ticket to a 'smaller' value. It is no surprise that we use the same words of 'big' and 'small' for prices as well as material objects.
Our perception of how large the price font is depends on the things around it. This is because we see things contrastively. Using this effect, the price will seem small when next to a large product or large other text, such as the struck-out 'previous price' or larger text of a product description or headline.
This size confusion is not just confined to fonts (for example as in the Sound Duration Effect) and the principle can be used in a range of situations. Simply take something that is small and relate it somehow to price. Even talking about totally unrelated items in the same sentence can cause the attributes of one thing be transferred over onto another.
This effect also works in reverse, so using a large, bold font draws attention to the price, which you may want to do when you are selling a real bargain.
There is a limit to this 'smaller' principle, just as there is when making the price font larger. When the font size annoys or inconveniences customers, when they think you may be up to something and trying to manipulate you, then they reactively will become less likely to buy.
Coulter, K.S. and Coulter, R.A. (2005). Size Does Matter: The Effects of Magnitude Representation Congruency on Price Perceptions and Purchase Likelihood, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15, 1, 64â€“76